If you felt last week lacked a certain gusto in its home entertainment choices, this week comes fully loaded with them. With the year’s inevitable end fast approaching, we have five 2012 films worth checking out before closing up shop, as well as a sixth as our streaming pick of the week! So take a look at this week’s bountiful options in DVD and Blu-Ray releases.
Top 5 Releases
5. Arbitrage (2012)
Though Justin and I had one of our more vocal disagreements regarding this film, I’m willing to concede the victory to Justin because he seems to be in the majority of loving it. While I found the business thriller to be dramatically inert and inconsistent in its intense rhythms, many will still find themselves thrilled by the performances of its ensemble cast. Though I wouldn’t say Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Roth get their richest roles in years, they are given more exposure than they usually get. Honestly, I’ll take Sarandon here over her delusional work in Cloud Atlas. As for Brit Marling, she just lights up the screen with her potent expressiveness, but she’s still yet to receive that role which pushes her over the threshold. It’s a mixed bag, but worth a shot.
4. 10 Years (2012)
It’s no story you haven’t heard before. Old friends reunite for their 10 year high school reunion, each having changed and either fulfilled or wasted their potential. No, I don’t expect anything more than pleasant, but that’s precisely what I hope for from this. Channing Tatum may be the poster boy for 10 Years – fitting given his greatest success came with this year – but he’s joined by several other young performers attempting a breakout. Chris Pratt, Kate Mara, Aubrey Plaza, Oscar Isaac, Brian Geraghty, and Anthony Mackie have all been seeking their own slice of success, some still waiting just outside the door. Oscar Isaac’s day in the sun will no doubt come with Inside Llewyn Davis. This film won’t give anybody the break they want, but it’s an eased up side project that might just promise a good time.
3. Killer Joe (2012)
After walking out of Killer Joe, I thought I was going to be sick. Leave it to Exorcist director William Friedkin to serve up something absolutely disgusting and have you willingly digest it. That statement sums up Killer Joe perfectly, and though it may sound like reason to avoid, it’s a resounding endorsement from my end. The same disturbing charm that Matthew McConaughey’s title character exudes is what goads you into this uneasy slow-burn thriller, all the way towards a powerfully unsettling (in matters of the stomach) climax. It might make dinner afterwards a difficult task, but as Justin stated perfectly in his review, it’s “a ton of perverse, guilt-ridden fun that will put you to shame for enjoying it.”
2. Sleepwalk with Me (2012)
Doubling as a new release and a streaming pick for this week (now available on Netflix) is Mike Birbiglia’s last of the Sundance comedies to trickle on home, assuming optimistically you don’t count Rick Alverson’s The Comedy as humorous. Both Tim Heidecker and Birbiglia’s main characters in their respective films are in denial and avoidance of reality, though Birbiglia’s awkward sense of humour is much more apologetic. I still find myself lumping it alongside Safety Not Guaranteed and Your Sister’s Sister in the vein of comedies about “reality”, but can only emphasize that through absurd situations. From all I’ve heard, including Alex’s own review, Sleepwalk with Me doesn’t reinvent the formula, but it does it sweet and plenty amusing justice.
1. Pitch Perfect (2012)
I was tempted to say in my original review that if you didn’t like Pitch Perfect, you were dead inside. Then I peddled back on the overly extreme statement, but it still sticks because I have yet to find a person so depressive to say the film didn’t put a smile on their face. You might underrate by calling it Glee for the college mindset, which in very loose terms it is, but while the FOX series can often let their comedic instincts overwrite their emotional ones, Pitch Perfect brings all the comedy out of the conflict, and so too does the payoff. Though not quite deep enough for a master moments segment, the Barton Bellas’ finale not only brings the inter-character turmoil to the point of catharsis, but gives each member of the group a chance to shine in an exciting and thrilling four minutes of pure joy. So I must state again with assertion, if you don’t smile at Pitch Perfect, you’re probably dead inside.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is finally out on DVD, so you can see if Bane beats Batman for prom king in the exciting third installment (Random YouTube Video of the Week!). Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bicycle action thriller Premium Rush hits DVD/Blu-Ray, which may be the ideal format according to G Clark’s review. Clint Eastwood’s father-daughter baseball drama Trouble with the Curve had my interest with Amy Adams, but Justin cautioned that all actors are wasted by the film. The action-thriller remake treatment Total Recall received does little to attract, but for some reason I become further interested to check out the Resident Evil films as they grow in number, Retribution being the fifth if I’m correct.
As you saw above, indie cinema is in no short supply this week, with Venezuelan drama Hermano joining the Sundance heavy lineup. Also hitting the shelves from the year-igniting festival are Spike Lee’s mixed received Bronx tale Red Hook Summer, along with How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor’s second directorial bid Liberal Arts, whose cast of Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, and Elizabeth Olsen make the film appear more promising than it probably is. But hey, if independent film’s not your jam, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle films are out on Blu-Ray! Capping things off is a triad of Showtime series, with the 1st, 2nd, and 5th seasons of House of Lies, Shameless, and Californication, respectively.
Streaming Pick of the Week
The Loneliest Planet (2012)
Instantly Streaming via Netflix.
You’ll have a great time with many of this week’s new releases, but I don’t deny you could have a hard time enduring Julia Loktev’s Georgia (the country) set adventure, particularly because precious little actually happens in nearly two hours. You could compare it in that respect to Meek’s Cutoff, though The Loneliest Planet is far lusher in its imagery, but also grander in its isolation of the core three characters. I found myself galvanizing the film’s title over the first hour, which show the main couple of Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg in throes of playful love. It’s not until a single act halfway through the film that the tone turns on a dime and becomes a much tougher being. Though The Loneliest Planet may be an ordeal, it’s a gorgeous one filled deeply with three strong performances from Bernal, Furstenberg, and their tour guide played with nipped passion by Bidzina Gujabidze.